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Pediatrics Interest Group Educates Middletown Kids about Healthy Habits

Thanks to Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM) students, more and more elementary-aged children in Middletown are learning healthy habits as part of an initiative by the Pediatrics Interest Group to make medical education less fearful, and more fun.

December 21, 2015

The Pediatrics Interest Group, founded in early 2015 and chaired by TouroCOM-Middletown D.O. candidates Kelly Parness, Julianne O'Gorman, Irene Kim, and Leighann Cornacchio, is a student club focused on pediatric health projects. Over the past two semesters, the seventy-plus members of the club have visited eight public and private preschools and elementary schools in Middletown, Walden, Circleville, and Monroe to speak to first- and second-graders about germ prevention, hand-washing, doctor visits, and healthy habits.

During the last visit, the fifteen students, divided into clusters, split up into separate first and second-grade classes to present an interactive discussion about medical education. Each group put on a skit about the power of bacteria, showing how easy it is for a child to go through his or her day and pick up germs along the way. After facilitating a germ-coloring craft activity, the medical students helped the children listen to their hearts with real stethoscopes. The children also had the chance to see the medical students try on blood-pressure cuffs. Their favorite part, says Leighann Cornacchio, MPH, OMS-II, Secretary of the Pediatrics Interest Group, who wants to become a family practitioner, was “listening to their own hearts.” “They say, “this is so cool, can I hear yours, can I hear his?”

According to Leighann, the school visits have been very rewarding—both for the D.O. volunteers and the children they’re teaching.

“Each member of the club has an interest in pediatrics, so we’re giving opportunities for our classmates to incorporate working with kids into their medical school experience, and they’re getting a chance to interact with the population that they look forward to working with in the future."

This semester, they’re planning five more school visits. “What we want to do is let the community know that we're here, that we have this club, and that we want to work with your students,” says Leighann.

“We always have a ton of fun, and we have received nothing but positive feedback from all the school districts in the area. The kids love it; they're always really attentive, and they love to listen. We'll see them in the halls while we’re leaving and they'll wave at us and say ‘I had so much fun, please come back!’”